The 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship will be played in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.
In October, the bid committee was informed that they had made the short-list. On Thursday, they were informed that the event was heading west.
London was short-listed in 2003 as well, but Vancouver was selected as the host that year as well.
The General Manager of tourism London, John Winston believes the London/Windsor bid was in it right to the very end.
“The feeling right now reminds me of a John F. Kennedy saying, ‘Victory has one hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.'”
Winston went on to say he appreciated everything that had been done by the committee to try to secure the event, but they are still searching for what might ultimately bring it here.
“It’s really trying to find the key to open the door to what we are trying to achieve. Hopefully one day that door will unlock and we will be all the better for it.”
Hear more from John Winston and AM 980’s Mike Stubbs below.
Over the past 13 years, the city of London has hosted two successful Memorial Cup tournaments, the World Figure Skating Championships and both the Brier and the Scotties in curling. Windsor and London have each played host to the Under-17s and this year Windsor will host the Memorial Cup.
As an event, the World Juniors have grown from tiny gatherings in Europe in the mid-70s that weren’t even recognized as tournaments until 1977. Canada’s first entry was actually the Peterborough Petes. There was no spectacle of a selection camp at that time. It was actually on the urging of Sherry Bassin that Canada had any kind of representation at all.
The next year, the Western Hockey League put together an all-star team and won a silver medal. In 1976, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League got involved and sent the Sherbrooke Castors, and they also came home with silver medals.
The next year, Canada’s entry was the 1976 Memorial Cup Champions, the St. Catharines Fincups, with a few reinforcements from around the rest of the league. By that time, the World Juniors had grown to eight teams and was recognized as an official tournament.
From there, it got legs in Canada due to the success that the country had. Between 1982 and 1988, there were only two years when Team Canada failed to win at least a medal and gold came home on three separate occasions.
In the 90s, Canada went on a run of five straight golds, between 1993 and 1997.
It’s hard to remember times when the tournament was not a wild example of Canadian nationalism, but envisioning it in a 20-thousand seat arena was completely absurd.
It didn’t switch to the round-robin format until 1996 and really struggled with attendance that year in Boston. That was actually the last time that the United States would host the World Juniors until the very famous tournament in 2004-2005 during the NHL lockout.
If you want to look for pivotal years of growth, 1999 was a very big one. Winnipeg and Brandon hosted the event and set a new attendance record, bringing in over 170-thousand fans. Although Canada lost to Russia in the gold medal game, it was very clear that the World Juniors had stepped up another rung on the ladder.
It was a rung that seemed to be leaving cities the size of London behind. London bid in the early 2000s, but was not selected either time and with the awarding of the event to Vancouver and Ottawa and even Saskatoon, it seemed very likely that the event had become too big for London.
Winston says that this will not be the final time the city bids for the event.
“We went in with a tremendous amount of confidence with the business case and with the theme that we were projecting… and we’re resolved to continue to host major sporting events, including the World Juniors if the opportunity avails itself to us.”
This year the tournament will be played in Toronto and Montreal, beginning on December 26th.
Photo Credit (Icon Sports Wire/Getty Images)